The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

New GOP ad tries to tie Brad Ashford to felon who went on Omaha killing spree

This post has been updated.

The National Republican Campaign Committee is going up with a hard-hitting TV ad in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district that links Democratic candidate Brad Ashford to a convicted felon who went on a savage killing spree in Omaha.

"Four murders in 11 days. The judge decides Nikko Jenkins is responsible for all of them," a newscaster says in the opening moments of the ad, invoking the high-profile murder case that has gripped the Omaha community since 2013.

The ad will surely catch voters’ attention in the competitive district, where Ashford is fighting to unseat incumbent GOP Rep. Lee Terry. The ad puts a spotlight Jenkins's early release for "good time" after he served just half of his 21-year prison sentence. Jenkins’s release came despite repeated displays of violent behavior while in prison, including assault on an officer.

“The head of the Omaha police union says Nikko Jenkins is the posterchild for why the ‘good time’ law is a farce,” says the narrator. “Brad Ashford supported the ‘good time’ law and still supports it, allowing criminals like Nikko Jenkins to be released early.”

The state GOP and Terry have repeatedly accused Ashford of neglecting sentencing laws as chairman of the judiciary committee in the state legislature, at times indirectly referring to the Jenkins case. The NRCC's new ad, airing just two and a half weeks before the election, attempts to directly link Ashford's work in the state legislature to Jenkins's crimes.

The race is labeled as a "pure toss up" by the Rothenberg Political Report. The TV spot is backed by an initial $170,000 in the Omaha media market and will run on broadcast and cable, according to an NRCC spokesperson.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted the ad on Friday afternoon, accusing the ad of "race-baiting" and demanding that it be taken down.

“Republicans should be ashamed that they have resorted to divisive rhetoric, playing up racial stereotypes and fear-mongering to save their sinking candidate," said DCCC Deputy National Press Secretary Ashley Lewis.